Sheldon Whitehouse Admits Belonging to Another Club That 'Lacks Diversity'

Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP

It’s really beginning to sound like Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is living up to his name. Or perhaps we should be calling him “Whiteclub.”

We previously reported how local Providence, Rhode Island media had nailed Whitehouse with a question about belonging to an all-white beach club. Whitehouse had been asked about the club before in 2006 and in 2017. In 2006, he said he was going to leave the club. But in responding to the questions last week, Whitehouse didn’t deny the club was all-white nor did he deny that he was still a member. His response was “I think the people who are running the place are still working on that, and I’m sorry it hasn’t happened yet” and “It’s a long tradition in Rhode Island, and there are many of them, and I think we just need to work our way through the issues, thank you.”

Now, Whitehouse just admitted to belonging to a ‘sailing’ club that that “lacks diversity,” a second club distinct from the Bailey’s Beach club about which we have been reporting. But while he’s admitting that, he’s now also saying he is not a member of the beach club.

From Fox News:

“While I am not a member of the beach club, I do own a boat and belong to a sailing club in Newport. While this club does not have exclusionary rules for membership, it does lack diversity,” the Rhode Island Democrat revealed in a statement to Fox News. “Failing to address the sailing club’s lack of diversity is squarely on me, and something for which I am sorry. I commit to working with the club and the community to build a more inclusive membership and to better connect with the local community.” [….]

Whitehouse, in his statement to Fox, also said his family would remain a part of Bailey’s. “There have been calls for me to resign from the club, which I understand. However, I have no membership to resign, nor will I ask my wife or any other family members to do so.” [….]

“I was attending an unrelated event and wasn’t prepared for the question. At the time, I made the mistake of accepting her premise. I then checked the assertion and was assured that, first, the assertion was wrong, there is diversity in the membership and there are non-white club members; and second, that improving diversity remains a priority and an active task for the club’s new board.” [….]

He added: “The recent attention to this issue has prompted me to assess all my affiliations and to consider whether any involve inequitable or exclusionary policies.”

According to WPRI, Whitehouse belongs to the Ida Lewis Yacht Club, although Whitehouse did not name the club he was referencing. Notice how he said “sailing club” not “yacht club” in his defense, to downplay the “yacht” part, I suspect. He also said “lacking diversity,” likely another downplay. But just like with the beach club, he and his family have been connected to the Ida Lewis Yacht Club for a long time. Fox notes how someone who appears to be his grandfather was listed as a “commodore” of the club in 1937.

If he “has no membership to resign” from the beach club, when did that membership end? After this all hit? He says he wouldn’t ask his wife or family to quit. But as we previously noted, it isn’t just about membership, his wife is one of the largest shareholders in the club. He’s been asked about the beach club since 2006, he’s just now reassessing his memberships in clubs?

The club is now claiming that it isn’t “all-white” in a statement they released to WPRI.

“Recent characterizations in the press and in other commentary about Baileys Beach Club are inaccurate and false,” the club told 12 News in a statement issued Wednesday.

“Over many years, Club members and their families have included people of many racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds from around the world who come to Newport every summer,” the statement continued. “Our membership comes from all over the globe to our small club and we welcome the diversity of view and background they bring to our community.”

But because their members are private and unnamed, it’s hard to verify. Obviously, if Whitehouse has to check with the club to find out and doesn’t know, they would appear be, in his vernacular, ‘lacking in diversity.’

So are other Democrats calling out Whitehouse for his hypocrisy? Not at all. In fact, his fellow Rhode Island Congressional Democrats all came to his defense.

“I don’t know anything about the club, but I do know that Senator Whitehouse is an aggressive champion for justice, inclusiveness, and people from all walks of life,” U.S. Sen. Jack Reed told reporters Tuesday on Capitol Hill. “It’s who he is and what he fights for every day.”

Watch the hypocrites circle the wagons. The magical “D” makes it all right.